Afghan President Orders New Attacks on Taliban

  • Three armed assailants attacked a hospital in Kabul, killing 14 people, including women and children.
  • At least 40 people were killed and more than 50 injured in a suicide attack in Shiwa District, Nangarhar Province.
  • Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement to the media in response to the President's orders.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced that the Afghan army would now conduct more offensive operations against the Taliban. A series of attacks Tuesday on Afghan security forces and civilians in Nangarhar and the Afghan capital, Kabul, killed at least 39 people and injured dozens.

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is an Afghan politician and current president of Afghanistan, elected on 21 September 2014. An anthropologist by education, he previously served as finance minister and the chancellor of Kabul University.

“In order to provide security for public places and to thwart attacks and threats from the Taliban and other terrorist groups, I am ordering Afghan security forces to switch from an active defence mode to an offensive one and to start their operations against the enemies,” Ghani said in a televised speech.

According to officials, three armed assailants attacked a hospital in Kabul, killing 14 people, including women and children, and injuring about a dozen. Authorities say the attackers entered the maternity ward at the hospital and opened fire on women and children, killing two newborns, 11 mothers and several nurses.

Meanwhile, at least 40 people were killed and more than 50 injured in a suicide attack at the funeral prayers of a former police officer in Shiwa District, Nangarhar Province. A day earlier, at least 18 Afghan soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack in Alishang District, Laghman Province.

Although the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Laghman, Taliban spokesman Sohail Shaheen said in a statement that both attacks on Tuesday were ineffective, and that yesterday’s attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar are not related. Meanwhile, the so-called Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Shiwa district of Nangarhar province on Tuesday. A confession described the attack as a suicide bombing.

After all this progress, President Ghani said in a short video message to the nation that he ordered security forces to resume attacks instead of defensive operations against the Taliban. The Afghan president said the Taliban had stepped up attacks, against the wishes of the Afghan people and the Afghan government for peace and a ceasefire.

Following a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban in February, the Taliban announced that it would not attack NATO and international forces. However, its attacks on Afghan security forces will continue. As the month of Ramadan approached, the Afghan government and the international community called for a ceasefire with the Taliban in the wake of the holy month and the Coronavirus epidemic. It was rejected by the Taliban.

In Balkh province, Afghan officials claimed that their airstrikes had killed at least eleven Taliban fighters, who they said were preparing to attack security forces. However, a statement issued by the Afghan Taliban again claimed that civilians were killed in the attack. Dozens of people also protested against the incident in Balkh on Tuesday.

The Taliban, who refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), are a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement and military organization in Afghanistan currently waging war (an insurgency, or jihad) within that country. Since 2016, the Taliban’s leader is Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada.

Taliban Retaliation

Following President Ghani’s speech, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement to the media, saying that the Afghan government has been working with the United States. Referring to the controversial prisoner swap agreement, Mujahid said the Taliban was against it from day one, and deliberately want to sabotage it.

The Taliban statement accused Afghan President Ashraf Ghani of being reluctant to release Taliban prisoners, which he said was the main reason for not starting the second phase of the Afghan peace process. An agreement reached between the United States and the Taliban in Doha in February 2020 will release 5,000 Taliban prisoners and 1,000 Taliban Afghan government prisoners.

According to the agreement, after the release of these prisoners, inter-Afghan talks will begin, which will discuss a number of issues, including a ceasefire. According to Sohail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, they have so far released 261 Afghan government soldiers and accused the Afghan government of providing an incomplete list of its prisoners.

“The list given to us also includes the names of soldiers who have been killed in the fight against ISIS.” According to Afghan officials in Kabul, more than 900 Taliban prisoners have been released so far.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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